tuesdays with morrie schwartz and the little wave

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

AT OUR HOUSE, we watch a lot of movies, but never any ac­tual tele­vi­sion shows—at least as they are being broad­cast. We don’t have cable and our set isn’t set up to pick up local sta­tions. We do pick up highly rec­om­mended tv se­ries on DVD and then we binge-watch!

We have re­cently en­joyed Ally McBeal (keep in mind that no matter their age, these shows are ‘new’ to us), Six Feet Under, Weeds (great balls of fire but Mary-Louise Parker gets more lovely as she ages), The Big Bang Theory (still in progress), The Big C, and Third Rock From The Sun (which tends to­wards the tedious).

We are cur­rently watching the third season of the com­plete Se­in­feld. Does anyone not from the East Coast (the “East Coast” being those states from Mary­land through Maine) un­der­stand the mo­ti­va­tion of these people and the ‘in’ humor?

It’s kinda like trying to find a Woody Allen fan who was born out­side of that same East Coast—I know they exist, but they sure seem hard to find at times, even here in the lib­eral and in­tel­lec­tual Pa­cific Northwest.


Little Wave: photo of Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal.

Cal­ista Flock­hart as Ally McBeal, a show that was part comedy and part drama with touches of sur­re­alism that made it stand out from all its competitors.

A few series that we own

We even buy movies on DVD, usu­ally used copies. As more and more modern viewers be­come ever more en­gaged with the ad­vances in tech­nology and watch their movies via streaming, it’s get­ting easier to buy used DVDs for a buck or two!

The com­plete Northern Ex­po­sure was one of our first ac­qui­si­tion. As Berni lived in Alaska for fif­teen years, this lovely show—worth watching if only for Chris-in-the-morning and Mar­ilyn Whirlwind—will prob­ably al­ways be her per­sonal fave.


You don’t un­der­stand! We’re all going to crash!! All of us are going to be nothing!!!


We ab­solutely loved the hints of sci­ence fic­tion or fan­tasy that seemed the foun­da­tion of the ini­tially great Lost. But even though the script and the con­cept got lost along the way, we bought the set and some of the ex­tras jus­ti­fied the cost!

Our cur­rent ‘all-time’ fa­vorite is Firefly, which we saw in re­sponse to stum­bling over the movie Serenity. We were both amazed by seeing that on the big screen; I re­marked while leaving the the­ater, I re­marked that it was one of the best sci­ence fiction-based ac­tion movies I had ever seen and Berni concurred!

But that’s an­other story.

Mostly, we pull our viewing ma­te­rial from the King County Li­brary System, con­sid­ered one of the finest such sys­tems in the country.


Little Wave: photo of Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom.

Morrie and Mitch.

So we watch a lot of movies

Be­cause we do not watch broad­cast tele­vi­sion, we get to see a lot of movies. The plus is ob­vious: we see many, many movies that are rel­a­tively ob­scure but are more than mem­o­rable. A fave that I love to rec­om­mend is Cold Com­fort Farm, which stars an ab­solutely de­lightful young Kate Beck­in­sale (who doesn’t look or act or feel re­motely like the person with the same name who has made a ca­reer out of star­ring in em­i­nently for­get­table ac­tion movies).

Re­cently we watched Tues­days With Morrie, star­ring Jack Lemmon as Morrie Schwartz, and Hank Azaria as Mitch Albom. Schwartz was a so­ci­ology pro­fessor at Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity, and the movie is based on ob­ser­va­tions that he made while dying of Amy­otrophic lat­eral scle­rosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).


“If you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too—even when you’re in the dark.” 


Mor­rie’s rec­ol­lec­tions, ob­ser­va­tions, and anec­dotes were col­lected into a book ti­tled Let­ting Go – Re­flec­tions On Living While Dying (1996). This was fol­lowed a year later by Tues­days With Morrie by Mitch Albom. 1

Albom was one of Mor­rie’s fa­vorite stu­dents but been out of touch with his mentor for years. When he pays Morrie a sur­prise visit, he learns that his teacher is in the final stages of dying. Tuesday visits with Morrie be­come rou­tine, and the teacher makes his final project a se­ries of ‘lessons’ to teach Mitch how to live life.

The book and the film rec­og­nize Mor­rie’s in­de­fati­gable spirit, de­spite the fa­tigue that his body was un­der­going during the final months of his life. Mor­rie’s puckish sense of humor colors each lesson.


Little Wave: Front cover of first edition hardcover of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.

First edi­tion hard­cover of Tues­days With Morrie (Dou­bleday, 1997).

All part of something bigger

Morrie re­lays a little story that had me pressing the back button on the re­mote con­trol to hear it again. And again. I have told this briefest of sto­ries to sev­eral friends (mod­estly edited by me).

“A little wave is bob­bing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s en­joying the wind and the fresh air—until he no­tices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.

‘My God, this is ter­rible,’ the little wave thinks. ‘Look what’s going to happen to me!’

Then along comes an­other, bigger wave. It sees the little wave looking grim, and says to him, ‘Why do you look so sad?’

The little wave says, ‘You don’t un­der­stand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?’

The bigger wave says, ‘No, you don’t un­der­stand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.’ ”

Get it?

We’re not alone.

We’re all part of some­thing bigger . . .

If you’re ever going to have people trust you, you must feel you can trust them, too. Click To Tweet

TuesdaysWithMorrie photo 4 1600 1

FEATURED IMAGE: Morrie (Jack Lemmon) having a day out and about with Mitch (Hank Azaria) in a scene from Tues­days With Morrie. Lemmon played the part to per­fec­tion, but as the film was made for tele­vi­sion, he could not be nom­i­nated for an Academy Award. How­ever, he did win an Emmy. It was Lem­mon’s last film be­fore he died and should stand as a tribute to the actor, as Being There does for Peter Sellers. 2


1   After the suc­cess of Tues­days With Morrie, the ear­lier Let­ting Go was re­pub­lished as Morrie – In His Own Words.

2   Alas, being a made-for-tv movie, Tues­days With Morrie has not re­ceived the ac­cla­ma­tion that Sellers’ movie did . . .

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Bravo! More re­views please. This was most en­ter­taining and mo­ti­vating. Pam and I went without TV for the last eight years in Key West. We did the same as you guys. Net­flix, li­brary $1 garage sale DVDs, etc. Your story of Morrie is ex­cel­lent. I will try and see it while we are on the road. Also, one of my all time fa­vorites is Being There. Per­haps it is be­cause, when it comes to DVD movies, I LIKE TO WATCH ! ! !